Monday, 21 April 2014

Battle Notes for Wargamers

As a wishful wargamer, some might say an almost entirely virtual wargamer, I tend to spend most of my time musing on and vaguely planning wargame projects, rather than actually getting any gaming done.  This is mainly because of that old issue of time, which is particularly relevant at the moment because I am about to go off on two consecutive two-week business trips, the first one to Uganda (again) and the second to Uzbekistan (again), so I won't even be near getting back into the saddle until late May.

Wargame books are therefore a very important way of staying connected to the hobby (and my own nostalgic take on it) and when I'm on the internet browsing for things, the 'classics' are the ones that I am invariably drawn to, even if I've not read them before.
Main map for the St Nazaire raid (hand tinted).
In this regard finding a copy of Donald Feathstone's Battle Notes for Wargamers on eBay for £2.99 last week was too much of a bargain to resist.  The copy I received was in very good condition, apart from a bit of spotting on the fly-leaf (oo-er) and the fact that some previous owner has carefully coloured in some of the maps.  Still, for £2.99 it's value for money.
Detailed map for St Nazaire raid.
The book is basically a series of wargame scenarios based on real battles through the ages, stretching from Pharsalus in 48BC to the (Korean War) Pork Chop Hill in 1953.  Of particular interest to me are the Battle of Wynendael (1708) part of Marlborough's campaigns in the Low Countries and the St Nazaire Raid (1942) featured here.

For each scenario there are two maps, comprising a sort of strategic map and a detailed table top map that can be used for the wargame.  The scenarios also include various rule ideas, what ability commanders should have, how to inject the element of surprise (not telling the players what battle it is seems to be the simplest method), tips for making terrain and other ways to game the scenario specifics for each battle.
Overall it is a worthwhile book to have if you are interested in scenario ideas and it complements the excellent Scenarios for Wargames (1981) by Charles S Grant, which provides 52 fictitious scenarios to fight though based on various wargame problems. I understand that John Curry has an updated and revised version of Battle Notes in print currently.


Michael Mills said...

This was my "gateway drug" to wargaming. Still got my copy and still read it at least once a year, often more.

The Wishful Wargamer said...

There is something so solid and talismanic about these classics that a yearly read is the very least they deserve. My annual book is Featherstone's 'Wargame Campaigns' (and usually one or other of Paul Hague's naval wargaming books as well).